Pardon me a moment while I dust off the old soapbox here...I was originally going to write something sardonic about Sheen. Who doesn't love a good train wreck? I was going to get my piece of the fun. I was playing with it in my head, teasing out the words. Then, joy of joys, along came Alexandra Wallace with her rant against asian cell phone users and my story morphed into something even better. I could lampoon her, Sheen, the whole culture of 'epic fail'. I even had a segueway to Gary Busy. I was almost giddy. Then along came Rebecca Black who ruined it all.
For those of you who don't know, Rebecca Black is a 13yr old. She presumably went with her mom to some studio where, for a few hundred dollars, you can be a star. It sounds similar to those 'modelling' studios in the mall or any number of self-publishers. It's a bit of fun, harmless, and who knows. Then her video went viral on the net, and it was horrible. Bad lyrics, bad autotune, gawd awful acting, the whole package. It was hilariously bad, and I wanted to be right on board with it. Except, and perhaps this is the key difference: she wasn't. She didn't deliberately (as far as I can tell) set out to make a viral video. She's just a kid who wanted to try something, found a place to do it, and took what they offered. I would hope any one of my girls would do the same. Good for her. If you have a dream, go for it. The response, however, was horrible. "I hope you cut yourself" "Get an eating disorder so you'll look pretty"? She might be bad. She might not have a career. But "I hope you cut yourself?". That's a bit harsh. She didn't write the lyrics, produce the shmaltzy video, or autotune her voice beyond recognition. Mock the writer, the director, the company, and I'd be right on board. But not her.
I know the presumed anonymity of the web emboldens a lot of people, but I don't think that can account for it. The simple fact is: we, people, humans, like failure. We feed on it. I know we all aspire to be better people. You'll hear people talk about how firemen or teachers are the real heroes. We say we respect people who came from nothing to succeed and, even better, use their success to try to improve the world. But really, it pisses us off. It's tiring. Do you want to watch Gandhi be noble all day? No. All it does it make you feel like crap for the 6 hours a day you spend watching tv, checking facebook, and checking out mashups on youtube. They're out there bringing mosquitos nets to children and I'm sitting on the couch, coke in one hand, remote in the other, wondering if I'm morally justified in downloading a movie. "I'd never pay to rent it, it looks stupid.".....but I'd spend 2 hours of my life watching it? Beats doing something.
It's depressing. We all want to feel good and the only way to really measure that is in comparison to someone else. It's easier to say "at least I have my health", if I've seen someone who doesn't. Compared to Mother Theresa, I'm an asshole. Heck - compared to the guy who just came by canvassing, I'm an asshole. Although, in my defense, he did make me get off the couch to shoot him down and I still haven't rediscovered the awesome ass groove I had going on. But next to a parent who sells his kids for drugs? Winning!
In any case - All I'm saying is, if I think it's wrong to publicly belittle and humiliate a 13 year old girl, I probably shouldn't pick on Busey either. I mean, the man suffered a serious brain injury, and people make fun of him to his face. The fact that he's a contributing member of society is amazing. So, I'm not going to participate. This time. I can take the moral high ground on Rebecca Black, and I can hold mum on Gary Busey, but there's another juicy tidbit right around the corner. Two months from now I'm going to have had a particularly bad week at work, I'll snap at my wife, be annoyed at my kids, and suddenly I'll find out that little Miss Perfect's marriage just fell apart because HE was sleeping with her teenaged sister, and all will be right with the world.
Having said all that, I'm not convinced Charlle Sheen falls into that category. Yes, he's acting differently. Yes, he's done drugs and alchohol and lived a wild life. But is he crazy? I don't know. He might just be a perfectly sane jerk. If, say, Dane Cook launched a tour called "Violent Torpedo of Truth", people would be excited (not me, I can't stand him, but people). Larry King is going on a concert tour and joining the Daily Show. If a software developer (Johnathon Coulton or Ben Wong) said now or never, walked away from their career, and started out on the road, we'd cheer them on (while secretly hoping they fail). Maybe this is his mid life crisis. Maybe he really is funny; maybe he has always wanted to be a comedian. I agree the odds favour a level of mental disturbance that would make Randy Quaid blush, but I wouldn't say there's proof. There's media spin. Could he have stopped himself through the 'power of his mind'? Definitely. Did he? I don't know. But I'm not convinced he doesn't know what he's doing.